Today in Brand History: Velcro
In 1955, Swiss inventor George de Mestral was granted a patent for what would become known as Velcro. The concept stuck (sorry, I had to go there).
One day after returning from a walk, de Mestral and his dogs were covered in burrs. Fascinated by the burrs’ structure, de Mestral examined them further to see if he could replicate their structure into something useful. His close examination of the burrs uncovered minuscule hooks that allowed them to easily attach to whatever they came across. This discovery led to de Mestral’s hook-and-loop fastening system.
He started experimenting with different textiles to see what might stick (oops, I did it again) and came up with nothing. A piece of nylon thread was accidentally added to one of the test fabrics, leading him to discover that nylon was the fabric he needed. It was durable and created a strong bond for the hook to fasten to.
De Mestral decided to name his new creation Velcro®, a combination of the French words “velour” and “crochet,” which in French means “velvet hook.” He started to market it as the “zipper-less zipper.” Unfortunately for him, the product’s success wouldn’t come until years later when NASA adopted its use in the 1960s. NASA used it to secure items like pens, food, and equipment. From there, its popularity grew, and now has many uses in fashion, homes, and businesses.
Velcro is much like Kleenex, in that it has become the generic term for what is actually called a 'hook and loop fastener' (like Kleenex is widely used as the name for 'tissue', even under different brands). Velcro is so widely used as the generic name that in 2017, the brand's lawyers felt the need to get involved.
Are you hooked yet? (ok, that one wasn't good)